The sun is shining again. The birds are singing. Hope springs eternal. Baseball is back!
Grown men are playing a child’s game and loving ever minute on the field. Baseball is the greatest game and sport ever contrived. It’s a “thinking man’s game” and you have to be mentored into the intricacies of it, but when you are, when you know, it’s magical.
Our family enjoys baseball. No, let’s be honest. Our family loves baseball! Some of the girls love it more than the boys. (And know it better too) The opening of Major League baseball is bigger than New Years and the Fourth of July rolled together. It’s cause for celebration and we celebrate!
In the interest of family’s history, I thought I would take a few minutes to trace the origins of this fanaticism. It’s time I take responsibility for the “mess” I’ve made and explain the origin of the disease.
I honestly can’t remember which came first. Was it watching Saturday baseball with my big brother on Television? Or, was it looking at the baseball cards he got out of bubble gum packages? Or, was it watching him play little league baseball while I chased foul balls to be traded for free snow cones at the concession stand? Hey, come to think of it, I’ve found a new scapegoat for my addiction. David did it!
By the time I was 7 I was fully hooked. I listened to the St. Louis Cardinals on clear channel KMOX radio. Only they were not always so clear in North Texas. In 1965 the Houston Colt 45s changed their name to the Astros and moved into the Astrodome. They also signed a new radio contract that brought them to KDNT in Denton, Texas. I was in business!
Now I could hear the entire game without interruptions. Except for my mom, who was telling me to go to bed. That’s when my first transistor radio became my favorite all-time gift. The little beauty had an ear piece. I could plug it in, turn on the Astros’ game and appear to be sleeping. I really was in business! (Don’t tell my mom.)
And so the disease was well established at an early age. The more I learned the game, the more I loved it. I even played the game for a few years and had wonderful coaches and teammates. But I must have been born to love the game because I was certainly not born to play it! And so I talked it, taught it, watched it, took my kids to it and exposed them all to this wonderful game of baseball. All of them caught the bug. Some are in remission but most are still as ill as their father and infecting their kids.
The Astros played their way into the World Series in 2005. It was their first and only time in their now 52 years they made it to the biggest of baseball stages. I had tickets to game 4 of the Series! But they were high up and a great distance from the field. I managed to trade them in for box seats for game 5! Only the game never happened. The Chicago White Sox swept the Astros in 4 games.
Hope springs eternal. The Astros are going to the World Series this year! (Ok, that’s a little too hopeful and I know the game a little too well to be that hopeful, but they will be more competitive and they will return to the baseball biggest stage soon.) They opened the season last night by beating last year’s Cy Young Award winner and the Cleveland Indians 2 – 0. Hey, this could be their year!
One Reply to “The Family Addiction We ALWAYS Talk About”
Your right, when we were growing up baseball was KING and every little boy played on a little league team or in a back lot. This was the era of “Baseball, hotdogs and mom’s apple pie.” We had snow cones and cotton candy and we always had a mouth full of pink bubble gum. Our baseball card collections included the likes of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Henry “Hank” Aaron, Stan Musial and of course Ted Williams who played his last game in 1960. The only reason to read a newspaper was the comics and to get the baseball scores and team standings.
You can blame me for the addiction brother, but it was the neighborhood team that came first. The fever started with all of us kids getting together and forming teams with whatever number of kids we had. It was the Saturday mornings, after cartoons, of going to the ball field or the field behind our house and all of the arguments of was the ball fair of was the player safe at the plate. Then when you were old enough and you got on a little league city team you had made the big league! After your first game somehow you were now a baseball expert and if you got a home run or made a big play in the game you were a local hero. And of course if your team won the game your parents always told the neighbor that it was you that saved the game despite the bad calls by the umpires.
For me it was mostly listening to the games on the family radio or sitting around in the garage if your dad had it on the portable radio. If we could catch a game on TV that was a real treat even if it was only a black and white screen. I remember the excitement of seeing a home run by your favorite player and yes even the commercials. Gillette shaving razors and blades, Wheaties or Corn Flakes Cereal, Coca-Cola and even the Lucky Strike cigarette commercials.
Almost every little boy had a baseball card collection that we kept in shoe boxes, card file boxes or paper bags, whatever worked best for you. We knew every player. We knew the teams they played on and could tell you how many home runs they had and what a player’s lifetime batting average was. We traded the cards like money. I will give you this player for two of yours or I have two of these players so you can have one for whoever you get in the next gum package. Also right or wrong we looked up to and treated the players like heroes and I don’t recall ever hearing bad things about them like you do now days. I’m sure it was there, but I think the standards of media coverage was different back then.
How did you get me to write so much on this subject? Yes it is springtime and that means baseball, the neighborhood street games, those in the empty lot down the street or nowadays it’s off to the mega sports facilities where players a families come from miles around. T-Ball, coach pitch, little league, pony league, select teams, so many different names and levels. But no matter what you call it, and no matter what the age, it is still just a bat, a glove and a dream of hitting the game winning home run.
The year of the Astros? Maybe the Rangers? It’s a dream we all can have.
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